A garden shed…

January 16, 2015

The shed that my father designed and built himself is over 40 years old and ten years of neglect hasn’t helped. I believe it to be rescuable still, but would need alternative storage in the mean time. And I could do with a shed of different dimensions.

Any ready-to-assemble shed that I have ever seen for sale has one feature that I cannot understand. The door is about 5’6″ high at maximum. Anyone taller has to bow as they go in. I also gave away one such shed from my Aunt’s place, although there was a favour in return so I cannot really complain. A neighbour had a bespoke shed made, but it is off square, the door doesn’t close properly, and not a good advert.

I happened upon a website offering shed plans for thousands of designs, and so I signed up. Disappointed that some designs that were illustrated by photos on the intro page don’t appear, and that there are many duplications of the same plans under different file names, and most of the sheds are far larger than the entire garden I have to put it in. But there is a reasonable selection, and one may serve as the basis for what I need.

But to my surprise were included plans for the A frame building that I referred to in a post about loss of data in the digital age (at the end of the post) However, if I posted the plans here, I’d be breaking the copyright.

So ‘back to work’ tomorrow. Well, I was working for a few hours today, and ruing the fact that I’d promised a despatch tomorrow, the first true working day of the year.

There has not that much been done over the holiday period, and it’s hard to know where the time has gone. Certainly some work, although never as much as I’d hope for at the start of the holiday season. Replacing a tap mechanism, and finding out that the old was leaking for the same reason the new one immediately started leaking was not good news, but was fixed by putting two washers in, one on top of the other. A better solution to be made soon (and replacing the whole tap is currently out of the question).

As well as the remote sensor system in the greenhouse, there is currently a power monitor on the circuit, I see from which the blower consumes about 20W,and when the heater comes in, the combined total is about 1080W. It’s used about 10kWh in a week, a significant amount, and it has been mild. It is worth noting that the background 20W usage equates to about 3.3kWh a week, or a cost of just under £7 a calendar quarter, but I’m sure it saves much more in that keeping the air circulating means less heat is required from the heater.

The Mercedes proved harder to get into the back yard driven forward than expected, being rather longer than Mother’s car that was the last one to be parked there. I’ve moved things around to get it in because the road is about to be dug up for utility pipe renewal, so roadside parking spaces will be at a premium for the month of January.

An unexpected farm

March 14, 2010

The white blob *is* an ostrich or similar bird...

It being Mothering Sunday, and as she had not been out of her house for months, unless a hospital or day centre, I decided to take Mother for a run out. Now that my Saab is dead, it was a hired Toyota Aygo (“I-go”, I assume). First, I took her to see what is now her second home, that is, what was Aunt’s place and left to her. Not to view inside (that is still a complete mess), but just the outside with all the wild trees cut down etc.

I wonder if the arrangement when the two sisters inherited the place from their mother was that Mother would inherit the lot for giving Aunt the living in it; or she gets her half back with interest in the form of the other half. There is nothing official, Aunt’s is the only name on the deeds, but there is no evidence that Mother brought anything other than one antique from that house – I really doubt any cash from a mortgaged house to get her share of their mother’s inheritance.

Anyhow, after the view, I continued down the hill and onward for a short trip around S Bucks/Berkshire, a different route to many taken recently.

But part way down the hill I caught a glimpse of what I thought was an ostrich!. So, on the way back I briefly stopped, and tried a couple of pics. The ostriches are some way away from the road, but they are there; whether for eggs for meat I have no idea.

Hellibores at Aunt’s

January 31, 2010

Hellibore about to flower

This is the largest hellibore that is about to flower at Aunts. However, we have to clear the garden so as to be able to get a skip in. Loads of trees are to go, leaving just a conifer, as they are seriously in the way. But in doing so, these hellibores would also be flattened. So I went up this evening in the dark (from having done the usual Mother run) to dig a couple up and pot them up.

Unfortunately for them, it turns out that they were growing through cracks in the hard standing, and it was impossible to do anything.

There were quite a number, and could only have been growing there for the last three or four years, since before that Aunt was still driving and parking her car on the hard standing.

HF Fluorescent lamps [2]

February 14, 2009

Although rather heavy (compared to the incandescent light bulbs), I use a HF fluorescent bulb in my anglepoise-type lamp holder. Due to the heat damage to the bulb holder in the anglepoise, for some time I had to twist the bulb a little every time I turned on. But yesterday, that had no effect, and nor did playing around with the contacts in the bulb holder. So I got a new bulb out. It came on immediately. Within a couple of minutes it went off. Then on, then off…, like some extremely slow morse code being flashed out. No amount of playing with the bulb holder made any difference.

So I got out yet another bulb, put it in, and its been as good as gold ever since. So I have another bulb that has just died, but without taking out half the electrics in the flat, and one that is clearly faulty on arrival – not exactly DOA, but just as useless.

This anglepoise [-type] lamp actually came from Habitat, when that shop had a different emphasis to that of the modern day stores. Its life is now limited because the heat from incandescent lamps (the thing is from the 1980s) has made one vital plastic piece – the part the lamp screws into – very fragile indeed, and I cannot find where one can purchase replacement bulb holders that fit into lamps such as this. I also have a desk lamp that used to belong to my brother, where the bulb holder has broken for the same reason; I kept it instead of his throwing it away, thinking I could get a new bulb holder for it…I’m still looking.


Ever since I moved into my flat in 1990, I have been using these “energy saving” bulbs. So I have observed their evolution, and seen their problems.

Many people dislike the fact that they come on initially very dim, and take some minutes to come to full brightness. Now that does have one advantage, for example in a bathroom in the middle of the night, it does not shock the eyes in the same way. In any case, this effect is definately more notible in some manufacturer’s models than others.

Others don’t like the multiple “D” shape, but there are those inside a round glass these days.

Some claim, in my opinion in error, that they induce migraine headaches. As a past sufferer myself, I discount this, because these work at high frequencies, not the 50Hz mains frequency that the standard “strip” fluorescent lamps do.

I have three gripes.

1. They don’t last the quoted 8000 hours. I find that some, the earlier models, would fail early due to solder joint failure in the high frequency balast or other parts in that area. Although much lower energy consumption, they still generate heat.

In fact the lower heat generation was one reason I used them, having had to rewire cables at my parents house where the old, incandescent bulbs had charred the cable to the point of danger (this was years ago, when it was still legal to do electrical wiring).

2. The dim starting. Bathroom aside, it is a pain, and it is hard to find which ones are more prone to it.

3. More modern units have a new failure mode. The first one to blow recently appears to have damaged the light switch on switch-on. The second, in my anglepoise-style lamp, took out the switch(*) and the fuse, again on switch-on. The third, last night, took out the entire lighting circuit. One moment the lights were on, the next, bang, no lights. Fortunately I had table lamps etc on, so there was still some light. This morning I had to replace the fuse wire at the junction box. Note that this time, the light was already on and working when it failed.

(*) I find it very annoying that it is impossible to buy replacement bulb holders to fit into desk-lamps (and I include from commercial distributors). The one in my anglepoise lamp is now rather fragile due to years of use with hot bulbs. But I was amazed to find that those commercial distributors did not supply the style of switch, either. In the end I discovered some at Maplin Electronics – so I purchased one and a couple of spares for the future.

Leak fixed – finally

July 20, 2008

This is actually something that happened two weeks ago, but camera/computer problems caused problems.

Anyhow, trying to block the leak at mother’s immersion heater never worked – a new leak seemed to appear. So I bit the bullet, undid the wiring (NB, this is now illegal), and took out the immersion heater. The problem was immediately apparent:


That bit of brown is the remains of the rubber sealing ring.

I went to a plumbers shop, to buy a new rubber ring, only to be told that was not what I needed, but a fiber one. Cost: £0.38. And indeed, once refitted with the fibre seal, (plus a sealant gel), and rewired (NB, this is now illegal), it’s leaktight, and everything working OK, except, possibly, the thermostat.

The rubber ring originally fitted (by me, it has to be said), was what was supplied with the immersion heater.

And the wiring? Well, it is now the law that any mains electrical wiring has to be either (a) done by a contractor, suitably qualified, or (b), inspected by a suitably qualified contractor. Now (b) is impossible, since no contractor is going to approve a job they did not see done themselves…one just says “it was done before the law came in”. Blaim the moron whose wiring job killed the daughter of Jenny Tonge, ex-MP for this area. She pushed this regulation through Parliament.

I learnt how to wire a mains plug at school, and worked for a long time doing mains wiring jobs in industry. I do a better job than those who have the paper qualification that is needed. This bloody over-regulation of every minutae of life really gets to me.

Catch up

June 29, 2008

Fortunately, Mother’s (and various others’) land-lines were restored last Wednesday.

Visit to mother’s today had various sights:

1. Red kite having caught some prey, circling around;

2. Finally revealled; why the hot water system was leaking;

3. Found; a genuine Kilner jar of a size I never knew existed;

4. Mother’s driving still OK-ish, but slipping the clutch and screaming the engine…

I have no photo of the Red Kites, nor do mother’s neighbours. At one possible chance, when talking to a neighbour, I brought out my phone-camera, to try. But it was too high. When I looked at neighbour, she had her camera out as well… so clearly a lot of us are trying to get good pictures of the Red Kites circling around.

2 and 3 will be subjects for future blogs, as they are current and not complete.

4 is head in hands: 0;-( (crying and halo = Jesus wept).

Bloody BT

June 24, 2008

I had a phone call from mother, very brief, from her mobile, which then cut out. I tried phoning back, on both mobile, and landline – and was puzzled at no answerphone. I became concerned.

I was about to try a neighbour when they phoned. It turned out all the BT lines in the area are out, and mother had gone to them for help.

In the end I drove back, sorted out mother’s mobile phone – the battery pack is almost dead, for good measure – put more money into it, etc.

But the really bad news is that BT will not come out and fix the system until 1 July. There are a number of OAP households in this area, all deprived of their landlines. Trying to keep mother to keep her mobile on (she normally keeps it off) is a big battle.

BT is going to pay for this crap service.


May 16, 2008

After a work trip, back to mother’s to see how the leak was going. It was weeping, but for the first time, the foam was not so full of water. So I added two more attempts to stop the weeping.

One other reason was to collect the hozelock based anti-air-lock device that I made up and left at mothers. Only I forgot to bring it back. So I too have to put up with no hot water until at least Sunday. Doooooh!

Driving back, my normal route via LHR Terminal 5 side road was OK, but the road to Hatton cross was at a standstill. In fact all the roads suggested that the A30 was at a standstill, so headed back to the M25 for free-flowing traffic(!), but then via side roads to Staines, Kingston, and back here. Probably no faster, but without the fuming of sitting in near stationary traffic. No wonder I try and avoid Friday night driving.

As for the domain transfer; uk2 have released it, but not yet handed it over…
and suddenly loads of relivent emails arrive suggesting I chose a bad moment…